Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 3 (Podcast 547)

Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 3 (Podcast 547)

Today I share with you the third in our four part series of travelogue style episodes to walk you through ten more images from my recent Iceland Full Circle Tour and Workshop.

We pick up the trail after lunch on September 10, 2016. In the morning, I’d been photographing on the west side of the channel, through which water from the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon flows, but this first photo (below) from the afternoon session was from the east side, or the left, as you look out from the lagoon.

Rough Sapphires and Waves

Rough Sapphires and Waves

I love the color in the ice that washes up on this beach from the glacier. We literally can spend an entire afternoon just photographing a relatively short stretch of beach, and continue to find compositions that work. Here I was waiting for the waves to crash bigger than average, and I was also conscious of the waves rolling in as well, trying to get a good combination of both. The sky was great on this afternoon too.

Careful Composition

I set up my camera on a tripod, as I often do, and carefully positioned the left edge of the frame just to the left of the end of the ice. When composing shots like this, I’m also very conscious of where the chunks of ice fall in the frame. I’ll move around and find an angle and focal length that enables me to compose the shot without a chunk of ice being cut off by the edge of the frame.

When there is this much ice strewn around, there will often be a few small chunks that are cut off, but I’m fine with cloning those out. I just don’t want to be messing with large chunks. I generally allow myself to clone things out that I was aware of in the field. If I get home and find something annoying sticking in the edge of the frame that I didn’t even see, I abandon the shot. Over-kill, you may think, but this is how I’ve trained myself to be very careful with how I compose my photographs.

I shot this image with my 24-70mm lens at 24mm, with a shutter speed of a 1/50 of a second at f/14, ISO 100. I also used my cable release, without a timer, so that I could release the shutter at the optimal moment as the waves crashed.

For this next shot, it’s obviously not possible to avoid cutting off the large chunks of ice, as I was square on, and there were no gaps, so in these circumstances I start to look for the best place to cut off the ice, and that results in this composition for this scene (below).

Sapphire Splash

Sapphire Splash

Again I was using my cable release to release the shutter at the best moment for the waves. I actually speeded up my shutter speed a little to 1/200 of a second for this, and increased my ISO to 400 as well, to counter that change. Basically I increased the shutter speed by two stop, going from 1/50 to 1/200 and that means two stops less light would get into the camera, so increasing the sensitivity of the sensor by two stops gives me exactly the same exposure as the previous image with a faster shutter speed.

The reason I speed up the shutter speed was because I was now closer to the waves, and wanted to freeze the movement just a little bit more than a 1/50 of a second would. Note too that I also considered lowering my tripod a little, so that the waves reached further up into the sky, making them look bigger, but that also reduced the amount of sea and distant waves in the shot, and I didn’t want that, so I stuck with my tripod height.

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

After spending most of the afternoon on the beach, I walked back up into the glacial lagoon, and did a few more shots, like this one (below). This was a 20 second exposure using my new 10 stop 4X neutral density filter from Breakthrough Photography.

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

Looking Forward to the 24-105mm Mark II Lens!

I bought this particular filter a number of months before the trip, and was so happy with the images from this filter, when I got home, I bought five more filters from Breakthrough Photography. My 24-70mm lens has an 82mm filter thread, but I’m currently eagerly awaiting my new Canon 24-105mm f/4 Mark II lens, that is expected to go on sale this week (Nov, 2016).

I have bought a UV protector filter for it, as well as the Breakthrough Photography Circular Polarizer, and their 3 stop, 6 stop and 10 stop neutral density filters. This means that I’m now fully kitted out for the new 24-105 lens, and I can use these filters on my 100-400mm lens too, which is means I actually don’t need to carry my 82mm filters around with me any more.

I’m not going to sell the 24-70mm just yet, as this is a beautiful lens and I may still need the f/2.8 aperture, which is the main reason I sold my old Mark I 24-105mm lens years back. The reason I’ve been waiting for this Mark II version of the 24-105mm is because I am now shooting with my 100-400mm lens rather than my old 70-200mm, because of the extra reach and great sharpness.

I’ve never been happier with my kit, traveling most of the time now with my 11-24mm, the 24-70mm and the 100-400mm lenses. But of course, that leaves me with a 30mm gap between 70 and 100mm, and that’s where the 24-105mm lens comes in. I have made it work with that gap, but there has been times, lots of times, when somewhere between the two lenses would have been better.

Zooming With Your Feet Can Get You Killed!

If you are listening right now thinking that popular mantra “zoom with your feet” then just stop. There are plenty of places where that just isn’t possible without falling off a cliff or otherwise maiming yourself, and when possible, I don’t want to crop down a wider shot either, so the 24-105mm lens is going to be a great new additional to my kit.

I actually have a rule that I try to stick to with my gear, that is, if I don’t use it for more than a year, I consider selling it. I’ve actually just sold my Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera, because I haven’t used it since the 5Ds R came out, and I sold that 70-200mm lens too, because I haven’t used that since the 100-400mm came out. Half of the money from these sales will pay for the new 24-105mm and I have the rest saved in my Map Camera point card for the next purchase, whenever that will be.

Double Rainbow Reflection

The following day, we moved on to new territory for me. I’ve perhaps been as far as this photo actually, but from this point on, we were heading north, and were going to go around the northernmost areas of Iceland that I had not taken the group to in the past. As we headed into the unknown, we couldn’t resist stopping for this rainbow (below).

Three Rainbows

Three Rainbows

It’s at times like this that I’m happy for my GoreTex lined Scarpa hiking boots, as I can just walk out into water like this to get a water filled foreground to reflect the bottom arch of this double rainbow, without getting water filled boots. I used a polarizer filter to intensify the color here. This was a fun stop, with everyone running around like crazy trying to find a good bit of water for a reflection or including the road that you can see to the left of the frame.

The Teigarhorn

We spent the day driving and stopping for shots along the coast, and our last shot from this day that I wanted to share with you is this one, from a small promontory of land from which we had this view of the Teigarhorn mountain and an abandoned boat in the foreground (below).

Teigarhorn and Abandoned Boat

Teigarhorn and Abandoned Boat

I also did some long exposures here, but the sky didn’t look great, as the cloud cover was a little bit sporadic. I prefer heavier skies for long exposures. I like this though, with the browning autumn grass and that characteristic boat in the foreground. It’s a bit postcardy, but that’s OK sometimes.

Litlandesfoss Waterfall

The next day, we continued up into northern Iceland, and had some lovely shoots at a number of waterfalls. The first of which is Litlandesfoss, that you can see in this photograph (below). This is a good little hike up the hill from the road, but it was a pleasure to be shooting in an area a good distance from Reykjavik, far from the madding crowds.

Litlandesfoss

Litlandesfoss

As I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, I’m now processing all of my images in Phase One’s Capture One Pro, and just wanted to quickly mention that I haven’t really done a lot to these images, but am really happy with the results, after tweaking the Highlight and Shadow sliders, as well as the Levels a little, and the Luma Curve, and a little bit of Clarity and Structure to finish.

Tim Vollmer, my partner for this tour had shown me a photo from the top of the waterfall, where there is another basin in the basalt rock, but when we walked up there, it turns that that you have to be a mountain goat and totally fearless, like Tim, to get to a point where you can actually make that photograph. No one in the group, including me, was brave, or maybe stupid enough, to climb down onto the wet rocks, to get that photograph, so I’m pleased that I’m happy enough with this photo.

What!? No Name?

Unnamed Waterfall

Unnamed Waterfall

A little later in the day, we stopped at another similar waterfall, which as far as I can see from the map, has no name. It’s amazing to me that Iceland has so many beautiful waterfalls like this one (right) that they don’t even bother to name them all.

We spend plenty of time at these spots, so we’d photographed these falls and the river from higher up initially, and then walked down to the river, to get shots like this, with the water swirling around in the foreground.

I used my 11-24mm lens for this, at 14mm, so that I could point the lens down to get the river in like this, while still including the falls in the distance, showing us where the water had come from.

I used a shutter speed of 0.3 seconds for this shot, at f/16, ISO 100. I can’t remember exactly, but I think I had an strip of ND1.2 film in the gelatin filter holder on the back of the lens, giving me four stops of neutral density to get this exposure.

I could perhaps have gone a little bit longer, but I was also trying to maintain some of the texture in the water here, so this is my result.

Otherworldly Scene

This next shot is of a pretty surreal landscape as we made our way to our next location. We were told that NASA did some testing of the moon buggy out here, although I don’t know if that’s true or not. Regardless, I love this almost otherworldly landscape, made even more eery by the low cloud (below).

A Moon with Atmosphere

A Moon with Atmosphere

I cut this down to a 16:9 aspect ratio, because there was a bit too much sky, but I quite like this letterbox look for some photos, and of course it’s a great ratio for showing images on a wide screen display or TV. One change to note for this photo is that there were lots of patches of bright orange foliage in this scene, especially to the left, but rather than cloning them out, I used the Advanced Color Editor in Capture One and selected the color, then reduced it’s Lightness and Saturation, to make the orange less prominent.

We continue with the otherworldly theme, with this somewhat apocalyptic scene at Namaskarth (below) the following morning. This reminded me a lot of Sulphur Mountain, that we visit on my Japan Winter Wildlife tours, but this place covers a much wider area.

Námaskarð

Námaskarð

I generally wait for people to leave the scene in landscape shots before releasing the shutter, but this is one of those times when I think the people add interest. I waited for the person on the far right to walk in front of that billowing fumarole, but I also had a second figure walking through the steam near the middle of the frame, and I quite like both. It almost feels like they’ve just had a sinister meeting, maybe a small package was exchanged, before going their own ways.

Dettifoss

Later in the day, we visited Dettifoss (below) accredited as being the most powerful waterfall in Europe. There is a waterfall in Norway with more water flowing, but it only falls about half the distance. Of course, you can’t tell how far the water is falling from this shot, and we were not able to get to the other side of the falls, so we’ll have to save that for a future trip.

Dettifoss

Dettifoss

The wind direction made the spray from the falls very difficult to work in, but I was able to get a number of shots, using my trick of keeping a cloth in front of the lens while I wipe it dry, then taking it away a split second before I release the shutter. Despite that, I was working with a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds, to enhance the silky feel of the water for this shot.

A short walk from Dettifoss, is Selfoss, a beautiful series of waterfalls, that we’ll take a look at to kick off the concluding part of this series next week.

Join us in 2017!

If you think you might like to join us for the 2017 Iceland Full Circle Tour & Workshop, from September 4 to the 15th, please do check out the details at mbp.ac/iceland. As you see, we visit some amazing locations, and have a great time.

Iceland Tour & Workshop 2017

Iceland Tour & Workshop 2017

 


Show Notes

Check out details of the 2017 Iceland Full Circle Tour Here: https://mbp.ac/iceland

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 2 (Podcast 545)

Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 2 (Podcast 545)

This week we continue our series of travelogue style episodes to walk you through my Sept 2016 Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour and Workshop.

At the end of part one, we looked at a photograph of the beautiful Seljalandsfoss, one of my favorite falls in Iceland, which is just around the corner fro Skógafoss, probably still my favorite waterfall. There are a lot of tourists at these falls now, with Iceland welcoming more than seven times their entire population in tourists each year now, and these falls are within driving distance of Reykjavik.

Skógafoss

Still though, there is no denying the raw yet simple beauty of a 25 meter wide wall of water dropping 60 meters into its basin, then flowing off in a surprisingly immediately calm river. Although we generally get a few moments to shoot the falls when there are no tourists in the frame, and I have a few shots I like without people this year too, I decided to share this fun shot with a guy in front of the falls with an umbrella (below).

Umbrella Man at Skógafoss

Umbrella Man at Skógafoss

As I mentioned in part one, I love to process my Iceland waterfall shots very dark and moody like this. I toyed with brightening up the water around the umbrella man a little, to make him stand out more, but it really doesn’t suite the mood for me. Plus, although the web version is quite dark around his lower body, the full sized version has good separation, so I’m leaving this as it is.

Dealing with Spray

One of the things that the members of my group always has fun with, is keeping the spray off the front element of the lens while shooting a waterfall like this, that generates a lot of spray. Some people inevitably get frustrated, but with a bit of patience, it’s totally doable.

For light rain or spray, with just a few droplets, I generally just use a rocket blower to blow the beads of water of the filter. That doesn’t work with this much spray though. You have to wipe the lens or filter clean with a lens cloth. The problem is, the spray gets on the front of the lens again while you are wiping, so it seems like an endless battle.

To overcome this, I always carry a large cloth with me. A small towel will work just the same. And I hold that in front of the lens as I wipe, and then drape it over the lens to keep it clean until I’m ready to release the shutter. Of course, I’ve got the camera on a tripod, and I’ve already got my composition and exposure set. I do that while getting the front of the lens wet, then dry it ready to make the photo.

With my camera set to a 2 second timer, so that I can get my hand away from the camera to avoid vibration from my hands, I wait until no one is in the frame, or in this case, until the umbrella man turned up to do his thing. Then I press the shutter button, all the time holding the cloth over the front of the lens to keep the spray away.

I wait until the 2 second timer is almost finished, then whip the cloth away from the front of the lens to get my shot. In the split second that the front of the lens is open to the elements, I usually don’t get any spray on it, so I get my shot.

Note too that although I generally like to use a 0.8 or one second shutter speed for waterfalls, the water will start to look silky from around 1/5 of a second, although I like to still use about half a second, as I did for this shot.  At f/13 I increased my ISO to 160 for this photo, using a 3 stop neutral density filter, for that 0.5 second exposure. Any longer than 0.5 seconds here just increases the risk of water getting on the front of the lens.

I should also mention that this method works best with screw in ND filters and the lens hood on. It’s much more difficult to keep those big square filters dry, which is one reason why I don’t use them.

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks

After our time at Skógafoss, we continued our drive to Vik, and headed down to the black beach to photograph the  Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, as you can see in this photograph (below). This is another of my favorite spots on the southern coast of Iceland, so we stay in a nearby hotel, and revisit these sea stacks the following morning too.

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks

We had a more dramatic sky the following morning, but this is one of my favorite images, because of the contrast between the white water and the black beach. This is a 1/30 of a second shutter speed at ISO 160 again, and the aperture set to f/14. At 65mm that’s just about enough to still get good depth of field, so everything is in sharp focus.

The 1/30 of a second shutter speed isn’t quite enough to freeze the movement of the water, but that is my intension. When you zoom in and look at the detail, there is a little bit of movement visible in the crashing waves and the front edge of the foamy waves on the beach, and this adds just the amount of movement that I wanted. I also do long exposures at this spot, and although they’re nice, there are a lot of sea birds, so the images always look like a kid scribbled over the sky with a pencil.

The following morning, we visited the beach again, and here is a shot from the cave, which is just out of the frame to the left of the previous image. As you can see, with my 11-24mm lens, it’s possible to get the entire mouth of the cave in the shot from within the cave (below).

Cave at Reynisfjara

Cave at Reynisfjara

I showed how I processed this image in Capture One Pro in the video that I released last week. As I mentioned, it’s possible to shoot something like this, with the inside of the cave almost totally black on the back of the camera, and still be able to bring out a lot of detail. I just expose for the highlights in the clouds, ensuring that they are close to the right side of the histogram, and this gives me enough detail inside the cave to bring most of it back in post.

I much prefer this method to doing HDR, as I feel this looks more natural, and it’s less work. I’ve nothing against HDR if they feed the photographer’s creativity, but I don’t like to see obvious HDR images. If you can’t tell that they are HDR then the photographer has done a good job in my opinion.

As we left Vik to continue on our journey, I saw a great sky, and stopped the bus for a few minutes, which resulted in this photograph (below). Roads are great subjects—very symbolic—so I always like to include them in my shot when the rest of the scene will support it, as I feel it does here, with this great sky and the cloudburst to the right.

The Road

The Road

Again, I’ve gone for a dark and moody look, which I feel really suites Iceland images, but this doesn’t feel sinister to me. I’ve struggled to find a good title for this shot, so at the moment I’ve settled on The Road, which leaves it open to interpretation, but I’m hoping people feel positive thoughts when they view this. It’s processed dark, but not a dark mood image, in my opinion.

Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon

After a good drive, we arrived at the Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon, which we photographed from the shore for a while, but then had an hour on Zodiac boats, sailing around the lagoon, getting photographs like this one (below).

Fjallsárlón Icebergs and Glacier

Fjallsárlón Icebergs and Glacier

It’s always fun shooting from a Zodiac, although they are always rocking around, so keeping the horizon straight is a bit of a challenge, and because you are moving, it’s always best to keep the shutter speed quite high. I used 1/500 of a second for this shot, at f/10, and that required an ISO of 500.

ISO—Main Exposure Adjustment Parameter

I generally use my ISO as my main exposure adjustment parameter. I work in Manual exposure mode almost all the time, and my thought process is generally to first set my shutter speed based on what I need to do with the scene. I might want a slow shutter speed, and even use neutral density filters to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera, or as in this case, I might need a faster shutter speed to freeze the subject or avoid camera shake caused by shooting from a moving platform.

I then select my aperture, based on how much depth of field I need. I like to use f/14 for landscapes, when I’m using a tripod, but when hand-holding, I sometimes have to go a little wider, and for a scene like this, f/10 will give me enough depth of field.

Finally, I adjust my exposure with my ISO, to the point where the information is just about touching the right side of the histogram on the camera’s LCD. This is a technique known as Exposing to the Right or ETTR, and gives you the best quality images, and enables us to open up the shadow areas better, as I mentioned earlier.

Even with today’s cameras, people are often still afraid to increase the ISO for fear of introducing grain, but if you are taking control of the exposure and using ETTR techniques, it really isn’t a problem, especially on full frame sensor cameras. Even the high resolution 5Ds R has great ISO performance, despite what the pigeonholers would have you believe. When necessary I will push my images to ISO 3200 and even 6400 and have no issues with grain.

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

After our Zodiac ride, we drove a little further along the coast, to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. One of the things I love to do here, is to photograph the ice that gets stuck in the channel as the tide goes out forcing the water to run out of the lagoon and into the sea, as we see in this photograph (below).

Through the Ice Hole

Through the Ice Hole

Here I was obviously attracted by the hole in the ice, and I used a 1/15 of a second exposure to capture some movement in the water, but leaving some texture too. A longer shutter speed for this shot would smooth over the texture of the water through the hole a little too much.

The following morning, we came back to Jökulsárlón and spent a number of hours photographing the ice on the beach, as you can see in this photograph (below). This was on the right side of the channel, as you look out to sea. There was not so much ice on this side, so I spent a couple of hours here before lunch, just singling out beautiful pieces like this.

Gems on the Shore

Gems on the Shore

I love the quality of light in this image. I shot this with my 100-400mm lens, and an ND1000 10 stop neutral density filter to give me a 10 second exposure at ISO 125, and an aperture of f/14. It can be tricky doing long exposures of ice on the shoreline, because the waves that wash around the base of the ice can cause it to move during the exposure.

Especially for this image, I was timing my shots so that the water was washing right around the ice and over the stones in the foreground, so some of them didn’t work, because the ice did move.  For this one through, the ice stayed still, and I got my shot.

Here’s another image from the same place, which I’d like to share with you because I love the color in the ice (below). People often ask if the ice really is this blue, but apart from a little increase in the saturation and clarity, I haven’t done anything to enhance the color. Sure, it looks bluer than the original raw file, but only to the level that I recall seeing in the field.

Ice Sail

Ice Sail

This was shot with the same settings as the previous image. In addition to the form of the ice jutting out of the water, I really like the line of rough water near the horizon caused by the water rushing out of the channel with the tide. This was also of course a lucky shot, because in some of my frames the ice did move as it was completely surrounded by sea water. Luckily though, it was grounded well enough to stay still for this 10 second exposure.

Next, I turned my camera the other way, and walked down the beach for a while, to make this photograph (below). Here I was attracted by the way the foreground chunks of ice sort of lead out to the ice in the sea, almost forming a procession of ice. I also thought the sky was beautiful in this direction.

Ice Procession

Ice Procession

There are some large chunks of ice that moved during the exposure, but I feel there are enough stationary pieces to anchor the image well enough to work. This was a 5 second exposure at f/14, ISO 100, so there is a little bit more texture in the sea than the previous shots. I like the effect, but if I’m totally honest, the reason I reduced the shutter speed for this one, is because the ice wouldn’t stay still long enough for a 10 second exposure.

This final image for today shows the people on the other side of the channel, having fun in the ice, and escaping the waves that sometimes crashed in a little bit further than they expected (below). Although I often photograph the surrounding scene at the locations we visit, I rarely share the images. I like this one though, as it holds up as a photograph, as well as a document of the situation.

Fun on the Beach

Fun on the Beach

I of course removed the neutral density filter for this shot, and increased my ISO to 400, for a 1/160 of a second exposure at f/14. Although it was a documentary shot, I was still conscious of where I placed that foreground ice, and I waited for the right moment to release the shutter with those crashing waves nice and high.

Next week, we’ll continue with the shooting from this day, as I photographed on the side of the channel that you see in this photograph after lunch. I have three more images to show you from this location, before we move on to areas of Iceland that I had shot for the first time on this Full Circle tour.

Iceland 2017 + Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure!

If you would like to join us on the 2017 Iceland Full Circle Tour, please check out details at https://mbp.ac/iceland. I’d also like to mention that we do still have some places left open on my upcoming January Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure. This is an amazing minimalist winter landscape tour, in an area of Japan that still seas very few tourists, and the resulting photographs are absolutely beautiful. Please check this out at https://mbp.ac/hlpa if you might be interested.

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure 2017

Click for Details


Show Notes

Details of the 2017 Iceland Full Circle Tour & Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland

The Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure: https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Welcome to part three of a four part series of travelogues to walk you through a total of 40 images from my 2015 Iceland Tour and Workshop with Tim Vollmer and a group amazing participants.

We pick up the trail after breakfast on September 27, as we made a stop in the town of Vik to photograph the church on the hill, that we see in this photograph (below). This is another photograph that is basically a retake of an earlier, similar image, now that I’m shooting with the ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R. The conditions weren’t quite as good, because there was a more dramatic sky and better light, so I think I still prefer my 2013 version, but here this is anyway.

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

I rescued this image to a degree with Color Efex Pro to bring out a little more of the colour, restoring it to what I recall from the day, but there was a bit of mist in the air, that in reality was reducing the clarity of the image a little, and slightly muting the colours.

I forgot to mention in last week’s episode, that most of my Landmannalaugar images have also got a little bit of Color Efex Pro applied, to bring out the colour and detail a little more. those images are much more how I recall the scene, although they perhaps look a little bit too punchy for some peoples’ liking.

After a little shopping therapy at the Icewear store in Vik, we drove for a few hours towards Jökulsárlón, but stopped on the way at this wonderful spot where the Kálfafell mountain is often reflected beautiful into a pond, as we see here (below).

Kálfafell Reflection

Kálfafell Reflection

There was no wind at this point in time, so we got some great shots with an almost perfect reflection. I shot this at f/11 with a 1/250 of a second shutter speed at ISO 400, at 24mm. I don’t recall right now if there was a reason I didn’t drop the ISO down a little and use a longer shutter speed, but I could have done without the wind.

Shortly after lunch, we arrived at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon that we’d spend a lot of time at over the following three days. You could plan a shorter amount of time here if you were just looking for a “hey, I was here” type of photograph, but weather conditions can be a bit tricky, so we take the time necessary to give us a chance to produce something a little more beautiful. Even so, we had challenging conditions for most of our three days, but it didn’t stop us making some beautiful photos. Probably the calmest weather was on this first afternoon, as we can see in this photo (below).

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

As much as I like details, I have found myself using the incredible new Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L lens quite a lot since buying it, and this was no exception. I shot this quite wide at 14mm, with a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second, at f/14, ISO 100. You do have to view it quite large to be able to appreciate the details, but we have the icebergs in the lagoon along the bottom, the glacier in the distance, and then that big Icelandic sky. I also like how the shape of the clouds from the centre to right side almost mirror the shape that the icebergs make below.

I also enjoy picking out details in the icebergs, and although I didn’t get that many of these photos this year, I kind of like this one, where I found a blue Jabawaki peering sneakily at me over the ice (below). I find it useful when looking for details to shoot to keep an eye out for things that we can identify as something else.

Jökulsárlón Icebergs - Jabawaki

Jökulsárlón Icebergs – Jabawaki

I shot this at f/14 for a 1/160 of a second at ISO 100, with my 100-400mm lens at 176mm. To enhance this a little, in Lightroom I decreased the Shadows and Blacks sliders to -36, which deepened the shadows increasing the contrast and drama. I also increased the Clarity to +60 and Vibrance to +15, and the Saturation slider to +30. This increases the blueness of the ice a little. The ice is already blue, but I sometimes like to give it a little bit of a boost like this, to bring the scene closer to how I recall it.

The following day, on September 28, the weather was forecast to go a little pear-shaped again, with rain and high winds. Another group at the same hotel decided to stay at the hotel, but I hate to do that when there is a chance that we can do something, so I took my group out, and we headed over to the next glacier along from the lagoon. As we crossed the bridge over the estuary from the lagoon though, the tide was going out, and some icebergs were trapped in the channel, with water gushing around their bases, so we stopped to shoot some images like this one (below).

Water and Ice

Water and Ice

This is a 1/4 of a second exposure at f/16, ISO 100, at 312mm with my 100-400mm lens. A quarter of a second is long enough to allow the water to blur, as we can see, so I was looking for details on the iceberg that would make a nice semi-abstract image with the flowing water. This deep blue glacial ice made the perfect subject, although it really is just a tip of the iceberg, as they say.

We went on to photograph the neighbouring glacier, and there are a couple of images from there in my final selection, but I won’t include them here, as I’ve prioritised other images to keep the numbers down to just forty for these four episodes.

The following morning, we did another dawn shoot, and there was still a full moon in the sky, the day after the super-moon, which we could not see by the way, as it was overcast. We were treated to some beautiful colour in the clouds though as the sun came up, so I went wide again to capture this image (below), mainly of the clouds, with the glacial lagoon below, and a somewhat tiny but almost full moon.

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

I love the detail in this cloud, and the way the morning clouds are enshrouding the glacier along the horizon, just below the moon. I’m not a fan of the choppy water in this photo, along the bottom, but it was very windy again, so there wasn’t much we could do about that.

When we were at this spot, one of the icebergs flipped, taking about 20 to 30 seconds, crunching and churning, and creating a bit of a wave that washed up the beach on which we were standing. It was an amazing sight, but the entire group, including me of course, just stood and watched it in awe. Of course, a photograph wouldn’t have done it justice without capturing the movement, but I do wish I’d thought to get my iPhone out to video it. That’s one unrecorded event that will haunt me for a while, but it is a very cool memory from the trip. I’ve seen icebergs flip in Antarctica as well, and this was equally as dramatic because of the close proximity of the surround bergs–all of them cracking and crunching together, it was quite amazing to see.

After the sun had come up, we walked across to the beach where there is usually a lot of ice from the lagoon washed up. The high tide along with very strong winds had actually dumped a ridiculously large amount of ice on the beach, making it quite difficult to single out isolated pieces, like the one we see in this next image (below).

Ice on Beach

Ice on Beach

You can see just how strong the wind was here, with the spray blowing off the crest of the wave shortly before it breaks on the beach. I was playing with long exposures as well, but with the amount of movement, you get a very different look to the usual smoothed over water, as we’ll see shortly. Here I think the shutter speed of 1/100 of a second that I chose freezes the wave enough to show the dynamic nature of the scene, which I tended to prefer for some of these photographs. I set the aperture to f/16, with an ISO of 100 at 70mm, the long end of my 24-70mm lens.

We returned to the beach later in the day, actually after the tide had gone out, leaving a lot of large pieces of ice on the beach and just off shore, as we can see here (below). These car-sized pieces of ice are technically known as growlers, because of the sound that they make as the rattle along the hull of ships at sea. You can also see here what I mean about long exposures with rough seas. This is a 5 second exposure, which leaves the rough sea looking like candy floss or cotton candy instead of the usual smooth water that you get.

Growlers in Sea

Growlers in Sea

I exposed quite a few frames at this location, because the force of the sea often moves the ice a little bit during the exposure, and although that can look quite effective, generally it just looks messy, so I wanted to give myself some frames where nothing moved other than the water. You might also notice that I composed this not only with the small chunk of ice on the beach and growlers to the left of the frame, but there is also a line of ice leading out into the sea to one last distant piece in the top right of the frame.

I was shooting this image (above) with my 24-70mm lens on a tripod, of course, but I had my 100-400mm on a second 5Ds R slung over my shoulder, which I was very happy to have as I looked up and saw this iceberg (below) looking almost like a Viking ship, and it was just storming out of the channel from the lagoon, with the tidal waters, almost as though it had an outboard motor on it.

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

I zoomed in to 400mm and shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second at ISO 100. I love this shot for how it depicts the power and dynamism of the rough sea, and yet the blue of the iceberg and other splashes of blue make beautiful accents in the chaos.

Thirty minutes later, as I continued to shoot long exposures, I saw another largish iceberg come out of the channel, and once again swung my 100-400mm lens up from over my shoulder, to capture this image (below). Again, I like the dynamism and splashes of blue, as well as that bit of green from the backlit wave running across the centre of the frame.

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

You can also see the crazy amount of ice that was washed up on the beach in this shot. I’d honestly prefer less ice, but with nature you do what you can with what you have, and I think these images are nice bonus photographs under the circumstances. I shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second at ISO 200, again at 400mm.

After this, we headed over to Fjallsjökull for one last glacier shot of this series, but we’ll wrap this up now for today, and take a look at that at the beginning of the fourth episode next week, before we go on to look at some waterfalls and Icelandic horse photos to conclude this travelogue series.

Greenland 2016

Before we finish, I also wanted to mention that in addition to my 2016 Iceland Full Circle Tour, I have teamed up with Tim Vollmer for a new tour in Greenland, that promises to be pretty amazing!

We’ll be visiting the eastern side of Greenland with fjords and beautiful scenery, glaciers and huge icebergs which we’ll explore from boats and helicopters, and we’ll be on land too, shooting both the incredible scenery and a number of cultural experiences as we photograph the local people making kayaks and performing an Inuit Drum Dance. For details and to book your place, visit mbp.ac/greenland2016.

Greenland Tour & Workshop 2016

 


Show Notes

Details of our Greenland 2016 Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/greenland2016

Details of Iceland 2016 Full Circle Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2016

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Iceland Tour 2014 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 446)

Iceland Tour 2014 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 446)

Today we complete our four part series of travelogue episodes covering my September Iceland Tour & Workshop with Tim Vollmer and our amazing group of photographers.

We pick up the trail on September 29, 2014, when we started our day in the Jökulsárlón lagoon. It rains a lot in Iceland, and the group was getting used to working in soggy conditions. But this day was set to bring us some high winds as well. So high that our driver would be prohibited from driving our bus from around lunch time, but we decided to go into the lagoon for a few hours in the morning.

Even in this first photo (below) you can see the texture in the water from the heavy rain, despite this being a 0.4 second exposure. I was attracted to this scene because of all the beautiful curves in the ice, almost like Guadinian architecture.

Gaudinian Icebergs

Gaudinian Icebergs

As we photographed this scene, there was a guy in a kayak that kept getting in the way. Doug Kaye, who you may know from the This Week in Photo and All About the Gear podcasts, was loving it being a street photographer. He was trying to include the kayaker in as many shots as possible, and I was getting frustrated because he kept paddling into my scene just as the ice moved into what I considered the optimal position.

It was at this point that the waterproofing on my rain proof pants finally gave in too. By the time we finished this couple of hours shoot, I was wet through to my underwear, so I wasn’t too disappointed when the wind started to pick up more, and we had to retreat to our hotel for the afternoon.

We actually spent a few hours going through images together in the hotel dining area, and then borrowed the hotel’s projector for a critique session. Everyone submitted three of their images from the tour so far, and the entire group spent a few minutes each commenting on them. I always love doing this when time allows, and the group always find it useful too, so nothing was wasted despite rain and high winds stopping play.

On the morning of September 30, we headed out for a fun All Terrain Vehicle ride to the face of a glacier. Scenery-wise it’s pretty, but this is more about letting rip on the four-wheeled ATVs, and just having a lot of fun. It rained the whole time of course, so instead of the sandwiches that we often take with us for lunch, we arranged to go back to the hotel for some hot soup and freshly baked bread, which made a welcome change.

Then in the afternoon, we went back down to the beach where there was usually ice, as we saw in last week’s episode. We had been surprised to see that there was no substantially sized ice there when we visited the lagoon the previous day, so everyone was happy to see a lots of beautiful ice on the beach as we approached in our bus on this afternoon.

A few of you that listen to the This Week in Photo podcast, which I guest on sometimes, emailed about a photo that I’d mentioned during a guest spot a couple of weeks ago. I’d said that this next photo was probably one of the best landscape photographs I’ve ever made, and although that feeling is starting to fade a little now, I’m still very excited about this photograph (below) which I’ve called “Jewel on the Shore”.

Jewel on the Shore

Jewel on the Shore

I had found a beautiful group of growlers, which you might remember from a previous episode are car sized icebergs that get their name from the sound that make as they roll along the hull of a ship. As you can see, there were various textures, and one was a beautiful translucent blue. I framed the scene, initially with my tripod at full height, and started making long exposure shots. The sea would come in and wash around my boots every so often, so I was initially trying to shoot this with all of the foreground flooded with water.

I looked at the images more closely on the back of my camera, and realised that the horizon of the sea over the top of the ice was distracting, so I lowered my tripod to about kneeling height, and as I started to make a few more frames, the clouds opened up a little, and the sun started to shine directly between the two large growlers on the right, illuminating the small piece of deep glacial ice in the middle of the group, and that started to reflect the light down onto the black stony beach like a prism. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I continued to make a few more 4 second exposures, but now I was hoping that the water didn’t flood the scene for the entire time, and this was the frame that I consider the best of the batch. The light is perfect, the colour in the ice is beautiful, and the dark sky over the left of the frame really all came together perfectly. I’m really proud of this shot, as you might have realised.

We spent a couple of hours on the beach, and I got a number of other shots that I’m happy with, and the group were all having an amazing time. Then, we continued the adventurous theme for the day, and went over to the lagoon for a Zodiac ride. Zodiacs are the large rubber boats that you might have scene used to ferry people to and from shore from large ships in Antarctica, and we spend a lot of time cruising around in them down there too.

On this afternoon, we loaned some even warmer overall style clothing from the Zodiac tour company, and split into two groups, one with me and one with Tim, to go out for around 90 minutes around the lagoon. Although you can see the face of the glacier in the distance, it’s not always obvious from the shore that we usually shoot from, but the lagoon is quite expansive, so there’s much more out there than initially meets the eye, like this first iceberg photograph (below).

Blue Fissure

Blue Fissure

During our 90 minutes, we were treated to varying skies, but as we approached this beautiful blue iceberg, the sky behind was so incredibly Icelandic. As we drew closer in our Zodiac we noticed this beautiful fissure in the Iceberg, with light shining through a very thin wall of ice on the far side. This particular berg will probably split apart within a few days of this, so I always consider us lucky when we get to see such beautiful natural features like this.

And if you thought the ice in the last photo was blue, take a look at this one (below)! I’ve taken some of these shots into Color Efex Pro, and although I’ve enhanced the detail, I haven’t added any colour at all to these photographs. This is very much the colour that we saw in the lagoon. It really is amazing.

Blue Ice

Blue Ice

One member of the group said that they’d saved the cost of a trip to Antarctica now having done this Zodiac tour, and although Antarctica really has to be experienced to full appreciate it, I totally agree that I also felt very much as though I was back down there a number of times.

As you can see here, the sky opened up a little too, and changed depending on the angle at which we shot, but the majority of the time the lagoon was in shade, meaning there was a lot of contrast between the ice and the sky in the background. This photo is processed only in Lightroom, not Color Efex Pro. I pumped the Clarity up to 100, and increased the Shadows slider to 48, and the Blacks slider to 25, to bring out more detail in the iceberg, and also bringing out a little more texture in the clouds.

Serrated Iceberg

Serrated Iceberg

Looking back the other way again for this next shot (below) you can see that I have that dramatic sky again, but this time, the light on the iceberg was a little brighter. Because the sky was so dark, the foreground water that I included here too was not really reflecting much, so is nice and dark as well, helping the iceberg to really stand out.

Jökulsárlón Iceberg

Jökulsárlón Iceberg

After an amazing Zodiac tour, we made our way back to the hotel for another wonderful dinner, and some great conversation. Although we’d hoped for some Aurora while at this location, it didn’t happen on this tour. We keep our eye on the forecast, and although there’d been a big solar storm giving great shows about a week before our tour started, we were out of luck this year.

The following morning, October 1, was our second to last day, and we had a big drive all the way back to Reykjavik, with a number of great stops planned along the way. One unplanned stop though, resulted in this photo of another wonderful Icelandic sky (below).

Icelandic Sky

Icelandic Sky

You wouldn’t really notice it looking at the original of this photo, but it was obvious as we drove along that there was something special going on up there, so I had our driver stop the bus for a few minutes while we all captured this. Processed in Silver Efex Pro, the detail in a sky like this really pops out. Someone mentioned that this almost looks like a view of a wave crashing on the surface of the water from underneath.

The highlight of this drive back to Reykjavik though, is a stop at the wonderful Skógafoss waterfall that we see here (below). Whenever we approach a location like this, we try to advance as a group, so as not to get in each others’ way, but of course we cannot stop other tourists simply walking into the scene. I actually got another shot where a couple hugged in front of the falls for a while, which was nice. The white spot in the top left of this scene though is a sheep.

Skógafoss (Falls)

Skógafoss (Falls)

Again, I processed this nice and dark, as I like to work my Iceland waterfall shots. I have a few with rainbows in too, and still couldn’t resist creating a moody black and white out of them. The sky was great on this day, nice and dark, but with the falls illuminated nicely, so the contrast is perfect too. Another great visit to these beautiful falls.

With Reykjavik as our base for the last day of shooting on October 2, we drove north, to the spectacular Hraunfossar falls (below). We added this last day for this year based on Tim’s recommendation, so I’d not visited them yet, but was really pleased that we did add this.

Hraunfossar (Falls)

Hraunfossar (Falls)

The falls are not high, but expansive. You could literally shoot for an entire day here, and not run out of angles and ways to pick out details. Here I was using my 24-70mm lens at 55mm, but other times I went really wide, and I also used my 70-200mm for a more intimate view a number of times too. As I mentioned before as well, I had not expected to see this fall colour in Iceland this year, but it was really nice to get this, adding some splashes of colour to some of our scenes.

Barnafoss

Barnafoss

A few minutes walk up from the Hraunfossar falls are the dramatic Barnafoss falls (below). As you can see, the water is gushing through the ravine with great energy. There’s even a point just above the centre of this photo where the water is forced through a hole in the rock, which seems to cause even more turbulence.

I chose a shutter speed of 0.4 seconds for this shot, to record a bit of movement in the water, but also so that I’d maintain some of the texture as well. I think this helps to accentuate the movement and force of the water pretty well.

I processed this in Color Efex Pro, to bring out the texture in both the rock and water, and I actually quite like the little splash of colour from the flowers on the rock in the right foreground there too.

We went back to Reykjavik for one last wonderful meal as a group that evening, and that concludes this travelogue series, but no MBP Tour is really finished, until we hear a comment from each of the participants. I recorded this on the bus as we headed back to Reykjavik.

[List to the Podcast to hear the participant comments.]

Iceland 2015

OK, so that’s it! Before we close, just a quick reminder that we are now taking bookings for the 2015 Iceland Tour & Workshop, so if you’re interested, do check that out at https://mbp.ac/iceland2015. It’s an amazing tour if you can make it, so I hope to see you there!

Iceland Tour & Workshop 2015

 


Show Notes

Iceland Tour & Workshop 2015: https://mbp.ac/iceland2015

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.